🚀 YC heads back to the Bay
Plus, a new beverage trend taking TikTok by storm!
🎮 Scopely levels up. Mobile games studio Scopely - which makes Yahtzee with Buddies and Scrabble Go, among other titles - is being acquired for $4.9B. If the deal goes through, this will be the sixth-largest acquisition in video games history. The acquirer is Savvy Games Group, part of the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund. The PIF is betting big on gaming - it has invested $38B in a portfolio of gaming + esports companies in a bid to become the next global games hub.
👋 YC hosts W23 Demo Day. This week, 250 new companies made their public debuts as part of YCombinator’s 36th Demo Day! The cohort, which totaled 282 companies (some didn’t pitch), had two major themes - more than 60 are building AI-related products, and 86% of the cohort lived in the Bay Area. Also of note: the past two YC classes have dipped below 300 companies for the first time in years, after the class sizes ramped dramatically with an entirely-remote program during COVID.
⚖️ Frank founder charged by SEC. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a fraud charge against Charlie Javice, CEO of fintech startup Frank. They alleged that she perpetrated “numerous misrepresentations” during the sale of her startup to JP Morgan for $175M. The charge follows JPM’s lawsuit against Javice in December, in which the bank claimed that Javice fabricated millions of users and then bought a list of student names and email addresses to cover her tracks.
💻 Anthropic challenges OpenAI. AI research firm Anthropic is expanding access to chatbot Claude, a ChatGPT rival that reportedly has a waitlist of “tens of thousands.” Claude also powers tools like Notion AI, Quora’s Poe, and DuckDuckGo’s DuckAssist - so you may have already used the product without knowing it! According to the Anthropic team, Claude has been specifically trained to “avoid sexist, racist, and toxic outputs” via a constitutional AI approach (read more about this here).
In other news, Apple received a patent for a device that might look familiar to our millennial readers. It’s an interactive AirPods case with a touchscreen display that can play media like music + podcasts and access basic apps like Maps and Weather. Still no word on when this might come out!
As a side note, is anyone getting a surprisingly high % of their news from Pop Crave and Pop Base? They’re really popping off on Twitter recently…
what we’re following 👀
Is the next big dating app a physical ring that signals you’re single?
thredUP released its annual report on the state of resale.
Stanford shared some interesting data on trends in AI - from the race between industry and academia to which countries are leading the charge.
Why aren’t there more consumer healthcare marketplaces?
You’ve heard of BookTok, WitchTok, and FitTok. Introducing the hottest new TikTok subculture: WaterTok! These creators are serious about hydration - and they’re going to great lengths to make water interesting. Surprisingly, it’s gotten very controversial, with debate about WaterTok spilling over to Twitter and Reddit. Let’s dive in ⬇️
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Tonya (@takingmylifebackat42) is the queen of WaterTok - she has 750k+ followers and gets millions of views on her “water of the day” videos. Her recipes are illustrative of what you typically see on WaterTok: a lot of water and ice (typically in a Stanley bottle) mixed with sugar-free syrups and zero-calorie powder mixes.
The flavor combinations push the boundaries of what you expect to see in water - “Grandma’s Salad” combines pistachio and cherry syrups with pineapple powder, while “Pink Wedding Cake” is vanilla almond and coconut syrups with a Starburst powder. WaterTok influencers construct “water bars” to store all of their flavorings, and are always on the hunt for new syrups or powders to add to their collections.
These videos get tons of comments, many of which reflect confusion - who wants to drink birthday cake water? Does this even still qualify as water? Is it healthy to drink so much sugar free flavoring / chemicals every day?
And of course, there’s backlash to the backlash. The main argument is this: there’s no need to be up-in-arms about women on TikTok adding flavoring to their water. If you don’t like it, move on with your day and drink normal water. Why do you care if people are calling normal water “redundant”? (ngl, I find this hilarious)
IMO, WaterTok is likely a passing trend. It’s expensive and probably unhealthy to consume this much sugar-free flavoring. But it’s a case study on how the TikTok algorithm can push a niche interest into primetime - WaterTok is all over the Internet.
It’s hard to stop watching these videos (you want to see the end result!) and they drive tons of hate comments - the algo sees this level of engagement and pushes the content. Watch one WaterTok video, and you’ll have trouble escaping them on your FYP. Soon, it might feel like everyone is mixing stuff into their water, and you just might be inspired to try it 👀
Rutter - Software Engineer, Integrations (Remote)
Zeal - Strategic Finance Associate (Remote, SF)
Anthropic - Chief of Staff (SF)
Bain Capital Ventures - Investment Associate, Infra (SF)
Scale AI - Sales Strategy & Ops (SF)
Rippling - Data Scientist (SF)
Patreon - Creator Partnerships Associate (SF)
Snapchat - Data Engineer (Palo Alto)
Podium - GTM Strategy & Ops Associate, Finance Ops Analyst (NYC)
Uber - Strategy & Ops Manager, Marketplace (NYC), Strategic Ops Associate (DC)
Anyscale - Software Engineering Intern (SF)
Bluedot - Marketing Intern (SF)
Asana - Content Design Intern (SF)
C3 AI - MBA Intern, UX Intern (Redwood City)
Chegg - Associate PM Intern (Santa Clara)
Coco - Investor Relations Intern (Santa Monica)
Passthrough - MBA Strategic Partnerships Intern (NYC)
Microsoft - Research Intern, AI / Systems (NYC)
Clear - Strategic Ops Intern (NYC)
Immuta - Product Analyst Intern (Boston)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Mia, a three-year-old mini goldendoodle.
She enjoys running around on the beach, snuggling, and looking at herself in mirrors.
Follow her on Instagram @summerofmiaa!
All views are our own. None of the above should be taken as investment advice. See this page for important information.